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Budowa międzynarodowego Zespołu Software Development

Building an international Software Development Team

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Wojciech Witosław. Please tell us how your career path in IT started and what your experience is regarding building Software Development teams.

My name is Wojciech Witosław. My journey with IT started in 2003. Even as a young programmer, I was always striving to keep up to date with the latest developments. Whenever there was a new version of Java or other technologies, I took the time to explore them. Today, looking back, I consider this a key part of my development path. Being at the forefront required not only technical skills but also the ability to adapt and learn.

The second important point in my career turned out to be the experience I gained while working at Wincor Nixdorf. Initially, I took up a position there as a specialist and then as a technical leader, focusing on the sales support area (presales). It was a turning point for me when I started to work closely with customers and the business. I remember numerous discussions with one of the Directors about how to effectively deliver and promote our solutions. I had to learn to think in business terms, which was a fascinating challenge for someone with a strong technical background.

Currently, at ISS, I work in a hybrid model, developing software both for clients and internally for us. Although previously, i.e. at Wincor Nixdorf, I worked mainly for the local market and partly for the foreign market (Germany, Czech Republic), at ISS we serve most of Europe, the USA, Australia, India and there are new Asian branches on the horizon, which also show interest in our activities.

Although my teams are based in Poland and Porto, the line-up is made up of nationalities such as Poland, Portugal, Brazil, Denmark, Iran, Belarus, and Germany. Daily, I work with teams from the UK, Australia, and Italy, although not all are members of my team. At the moment, my teams (Developers, DevOps, and QA Specialists) comprise around 30 people and are located about 50/50 in Poland and Portugal. 

Number of IT specialists

With a choice of the whole world, or at least different locations in Europe, what criteria would you take into account when choosing a particular country for an IT project?

a location for the project

When considering different locations I would take the following factors into account:

1. Type of project

When setting up a startup or developing a new business model, the choice of location is important, influencing the specifics of the project. Working on a green-field project requires a lot of analysis and the design of a profit-generating system. When working on a team project, differences in approach to information noise and understanding of business requirements are apparent from region to region. It is worth taking these variations into account when making business decisions.

2. The amount of information you have

From a current perspective, I can say that the team in Portugal is excellent at dealing with less precise information, for example in the case of business requirements. You can say that it is flexible in the flow of information and communication. This does not mean that the Polish team does not have strengths in this category. Of course, it does – it is meticulous in its approach to information, which proves extremely helpful in situations requiring greater precision.

It is difficult to assess unequivocally what is better or more desirable in this category. It all depends on the specific context and situation the team finds itself in when making decisions.

3. Technology required

I am not in favor of formulating clear-cut theories, as my observations are not based on scientific research. Nevertheless, I note that there are differences in approach between frontend and backend technologies depending on the region.

Within frontend technologies, one can distinguish between Angular and React, for example. Angular requires the creation of complex components and their systematization, which works especially well for creating large systems with a long-term perspective.

In React, you work faster and there is no strictly imposed structure, which gives you freedom but can lead to maintenance difficulties, especially in long-term projects.

I have the impression that the Portuguese are more likely to choose React and the Poles Angular. In the context of the Backend, on the other hand, we can choose Java, but if someone is interested in rapid application development, they will choose Node.js.

In other words, if you want to quickly ‘set up’ a project, it is easier to do it with a team that is closer to ‘fast technologies’. If, at the start, your project promises to be like a wide motorway – entrust it to people comfortable with such conditions. Paradoxically, these conclusions are not mutually exclusive and, I might add, in a sense I have proved this to myself. Today, both projects have blended technologies, are long-term, and are producing rapid results.

4. Cultural fit with the environment and the specifics of the project

I am not a proponent of stereotypes, but I have noticed differences between Southern temperament and Northern stoicism in my current business.

Each cultural trait has its place and importance, especially depending on the nature of the projects (B2C or B2B). In B2C projects, i.e. projects for the mass user, the visual part is particularly important and therefore a southern temperament “fits”, whereas projects in Poland tend to focus on native iOS or Android app development.

Based on experience, I can admit that diversity supports the success of projects (balances risks).

5. Budget

The salaries of IT specialists vary from country to country. IT, on the other hand, is by its very nature more global than other sectors of the economy. This was particularly evident during the pandemic when remote working assumed a strong position and has remained the standard to this day.

There is little problem for a Polish or Portuguese programmer to take part in a project carried out in Germany or on the other side of the world. The only barrier may be knowledge of the local language, which today is easily offset by knowledge of English. This phenomenon favors the unification of programmer rates and helps to ‘catch up’.

Everything ultimately depends on the level of seniority, knowledge of niche technologies, etc. and such data is very difficult to compare.

English language proficiency ranking

In summary, many factors influence the selection of a team for a project, and unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for this issue. In my current business, I have also had the opportunity to combine the forces of ‘north’ and ‘south’. This remarkable experience has shown that diversification yields unique team capabilities. Thanks to this move, the resulting ‘hybrid’ made it possible to realize a project that at the beginning had a high risk of failure.

Do you think the IT crisis is over and the worst is over?

To begin with, I would ask: what is a crisis? Because, after all, we do not have the situation of 2007/2008. I see the term crisis as a set of phenomena that have a negative impact on my business, both directly and indirectly.

1. the indirect ones include:

– heard from employees: stories of redundancies in IT companies in Portugal and also in Poland;

– from press sources: staff reductions in global corporations and leaving only items with a certain rate of return labeled as “must win” in project portfolios;

2. direct ones include:

– a greater number of IT specialists available on the market and, interestingly enough: for a few months in Poland, for about a year in Portugal;

– a focus on projects optimizing existing and creating new business models;

I don’t know if, on the subject of the crisis, the worst is over. What I do know is that even in a crisis, a good IT Team will always survive. A good team can carry out most of the projects and allow itself to create new ideas (especially needed in difficult times).

Salaries of Polish IT specialists